It's a miracle he's alive they all whisper, thank goodness we found him. They quietly sip their tea in my living room, waiting for the next applicant to arrive. This used to be my favorite room before my wife decided to redecorate. Now it's a ridiculous tornado of pink dust-ruffles and grinning china cats. I prefer the warmth of my bed, the plaid flannel sheets, the fishing trophies on my bedside table, the view of the stream behind our house. My leg throbs and I try and scratch an itch under my cast with a small piece of wire I found upstairs. My impatient children have scheduled all ten interviews for this afternoon, they have jobs and families to get back to. But I cannot be left alone. I am fragile, like a tiny icicle dangling precariously over their heads They have no desire to watch me come crashing to the ground.The smell of fall comes through the open window in waves. I inhale the smell of rain, of leaves beginning to sink into soil, the crisp wind blowing away the last bits of summer. Silo barks at the open window as another homely middle aged woman in loafers waddles up to the front door. She turns up her bespectacled nose as she enters the room. "I don't 'do' dogs," she announces in disgust. My daughters sigh and Silo begins to growl. I look at my wristwatch and squint, trying to decipher the time. The minutes seem to slip away like molasses, I am bored. I lie and tell the nurse I like her faded gingham dress. The face of my watch is scratched from wear, on the inside is engraved June 16, 1984, the day I retired from the quarry. I close my eyes and try to remember that day. How I would have loved to keep working forever, to be useful, to be whole. The sun warms my resting eyelids and dances on my wrinkled cheeks. It hurts to feel broken.
TEXT by Mary-Caitlin Hentz + IMAGES by Sarah Tanat-Jones